Dean Karcha says that he did what anybody would have done if they found themselves in a similar situation to what he encountered Monday on Boundary Dam.
But that hasn’t stopped people from hailing him as a hero for what he did.
Karcha came to the rescue of several people and helped pull them to safety after their paddleboat capsized. A report from the Estevan RCMP says local emergency crews were called to Boundary Dam at about 2:30 p.m. that day due to the capsized watercraft.
Members of the Estevan RCMP, the Estevan Fire Rescue Service and Estevan Emergency Medical Services arrived in the area, and learned that people on the paddleboat had overturned and ended up in the water.
The RCMP noted a boater in the area came to their rescue.
Karcha said he found four adults, one of whom was an elderly woman. They were OK, but were hysterical, and that none of them could swim. They also told Karcha there was a young child underneath the paddleboat.
Everyone aboard the paddleboat was wearing a lifejacket at the time.
Karcha, who is an experienced swimmer, had one of the people contact 911, and dove into the water.
“When I got to the boy, he had his head trapped in the paddles of the boat, and I was able to free him up. And that was basically it.”
Karcha did go on to say that the boy was trapped in the little pocket where someone would paddle the boat. The child’s lifejacket was forcing him into the cabin area.
“He couldn’t free himself. When I got into there, there was what I thought was going to be a pocket of air, but I tried to take a breath, and there was no air inside, so I had to force him out of there. We managed to get him freed up, and got him to safety.”
The boy and the elderly woman were taken to shore first, and the other adults waited in the water for Karcha to return. They were safe holding on to the paddleboat. Another boater brought a couple of the adults to shore.
Had Karcha arrived a couple of minutes later, he worries the boy might have suffocated.
The child was hyperventilating when Karcha rescued him from the boat, and needed to be checked out by the paramedics, but Karcha told Lifestyles the boy was doing fine.
Once everyone was back to shore, Karcha checked on the condition of the child and the other people who were aboard the paddleboat. They were emotional, but they were also grateful to Karcha for rescuing them.
He did not see the boat overturn, so he isn’t sure how much time elapsed between when the boat capsized and when he arrived. He was about 200 yards from the watercraft when he saw it for the first time.
Karcha also estimated the incident happened 80-100 yards from the shore, and a couple of hundred yards away from the beach site.
Fortunately for those involved, Karcha is an experienced swimmer. He made it all the way to lifeguard training in swimming lessons, and has taken CPR courses. But he also noted it’s likely been 20 years since his last swimming lesson.
Karcha believes his actions were largely a reflection of being in the right place at the right time, and anyone else would have done the same thing.
“I would hope that if my son was ever in that situation, that they would help him as well,” he said.